Trade: It’s What People Do

Donald Trump wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the US, Canada and Mexico, apparently because he thinks he or his agents can negotiate a better deal.

An article in Canada’s National Post today gives a hint of what sort of nonsense these kinds of international negotiations entail. I encourage you to read the whole thing here, as it will give you a perspective on how far we have strayed from simple barter between individuals.

Now I don’t think barter lasted very long as it would become evident very quickly among traders that some medium of exchange would simplify matters. That gave impetus to the development of money from the class of goods valued most by traders. It eventually gave rise to a merchant class as well, the representatives of which travelled the known world seeking goods for trade.

The main takeaway from the preceding paragraph is that trade was developed by individuals and that essential remains even today. Ultimately, it is people exchanging goods and services from the source of their own production. Governments don’t trade anything because they don’t produce anything. (Mostly, they are a destructive force.)

Today we have politicians negotiating international trade agreements as a leftover from among other wrongheaded national boondoggles, the age of mercantilism.

So I’d offer this draft agreement for consideration by the NAFTA negotiators:

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state [Canada, Mexico or United States]. No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State [Canada, Mexico or United States] over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one State [Canada, Mexico or United States], be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties in another [Canada, Mexico or United States].

Now that’s not an original of mine. Some of you may recognize it as excerpted from the US Constitution with the addition of bracketed information for clarity. It is perhaps the simplest statement of free trade on record. (Article 1, Section 9 of US Constitution)

©Copyright 2017, Edward Podritske

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